50-Group Public Health Coalition Asks Congress To Oppose TPP

Dave Johnson

Saying they are “alarmed by the implications for access to medicines [created by] the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)” a coalition of 50 groups concerned with public health sent a letter asking Congress to oppose the so-called “trade” agreement. The groups say that TPP provisions give giant, multinational pharmaceutical companies monopoly power as well as power to restrict decisions by sovereign governments.

The letter, dated April 12, begins:

“The intellectual property (IP), investment, and pharmaceutical and medical device reimbursement listing provisions included in the TPP would do more to undermine access to affordable medicines than any previous U.S. trade agreement. We therefore urge you to reject the TPP in its current form.”

Problems the coalition sees with TPP include:

● Procedures … that allow pharmaceutical companies to intervene in public policy deliberations on drug pricing and reimbursements.

● Measures that enable patent “evergreening” by requiring countries to grant additional 20-year patents for new uses, new methods or new processes of using existing medicines.

● Extension of patent terms beyond 20 years when the patent office review exceeds a certain period, and when patent holders allege delays in drug regulatory review of a medicine’s safety and efficacy in order to grant marketing approval.

● Rules requiring data/marketing exclusivity of at least five years for small molecule medicines plus at least three years of additional exclusivity for modifications of existing medicines or five years for combinations.

● For the first time in a U.S. trade agreement, there is a separate provision for monopoly protection for biologic medicines – such as monoclonal anti-bodies that are rapidly becoming the treatments of choice for many cancers and other illnesses.

● Provisions enabling pharmaceutical companies to sue the U.S. or other governments in unaccountable investor-state tribunals to seek taxpayer compensation by claiming that public policies have deprived them of their anticipated profits.

The letter says, “These TPP provisions significantly skew that balance away from consumer access to medicines by unduly expanding pharmaceutical industry monopoly power.”

The letter concludes, “We urge Congress to reject the TPP as long as these damaging provisions are a part of it. The stakes for public health are too high.”

The letter was signed by:

ACRIA Center on HIV & Aging
Act Up Boston
Adrian Dominican Sisters, Portfolio Advisory Board
African Services Committee
AIDS Alabama
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Alliance for a Just Society
Alliance for Retired Americans
American Medical Student Association
Article 25
AVAC- Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention
Breast Cancer Action
Cancer Families for Affordable Medicine
Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH)
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
Community Organizations in Action
Connecticut Citizen Action Group
CREDO Action
DC Fights Back
Dominican Sisters of Hope
Global Justice Institute of Metropolitan Community Churches
Health Alliance International
Health Global Access Project (GAP)
Hepatitis Education Project
Hesperian Health Guides
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Indian People’s Action
Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK)
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Domestic and Global Health Leadership Teams
Main Street Alliance
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders USA
National Nurses United
National Physicians Alliance
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment
Oxfam America
People’s Health Movement USA
Physicians for a National Health Program
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Project Inform
Public Citizen
Social Security Works
Student Global AIDS Campaign
Sum Of Us
Treatment Action Group
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines
Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province
US Action
Virginia Organizing
Voices of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY)
Washington Community Action Network
Yale Global Health Justice Partnership
Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network

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